The Great Alkaline Water Debate
What is Alkaline Water?
Water is our most essential nutrient and is vital to our survival and good health. You may know that two-thirds of your body is water, however, in terms of the number of molecules, your body consists of over 99 percent water molecules! Because water is so vital to our health, the type and quality of water we take into our body is very important.
I have written before that filtering tap water is the best way to get healthy water, see What to Look for in a Water Filtration System. Basically, when treating water for drinking, we should “take out the bad” and “leave in the good.”. We want to remove toxic chemicals and impurities then add back the essential minerals that nature intended to be in water.
Water from natural springs have been highly sought after for centuries because those who drank it claimed it had amazing health-restorative abilities. There are many natural springs on Earth where this has been observed. Tlacote, Mexico, Nordenau, Germany, Nadana Village, India, Yankalilla, Australia, The Himalayan Mountains in China and recently in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. It is of note and interest that indigenous people that consume these waters display exceptional health and longevity where people are reported to live to 100 to 135 years of age. All these waters in their natural state are alkaline. The alkalinity is due to minerals in the water including calcium, silica, potassium, magnesium, and bicarbonate.
The “alkaline” in alkaline water refers to its pH level. The pH level is a number that measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is on a scale of 0 to 14. For example, something with a pH of 1 would be very acidic, and something with a pH of 13 would be very alkaline. Alkaline water has a higher pH level than regular drinking water. Because of this, some advocates of alkaline water believe it can neutralize the acid in your body. Normal drinking water generally has a neutral pH of 7. Alkaline water typically has a pH of 8 or 9.
Alkaline Water Debate
There has been much debate as to whether drinking alkaline water is healthier than drinking pH neutral water (7.0) or acidic water (less than 7.0). There are scientific studies that report benefits and those that do not. Those in favor of alkaline water claim it provides a range of health benefits. Namely, that it boosts the metabolism, reduces bone loss and slows the aging process, and metabolizes nutrients easier by neutralizing acid in the blood that causes disease. They believe low-grade acidosis may not always be detected with testing, leaving your body to suffer the consequences. The opposing side agrees there might be benefits but is unsure whether the benefits come from the high-pH-level alkaline water itself or the minerals it contains.
One recent and interesting study in mice, Alkaline Water and Longevity: A Murine Study, reported, “statistical analysis revealed that alkaline water provides higher longevity in terms of “deceleration aging factor” as it increases the survival functions when compared with control group; namely, animals belonging to the population treated with alkaline water resulted in a longer lifespan.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016; 2016: 3084126.
I suggest that a little common sense regarding this debate is the answer. Alkaline water is water that’s less acidic than tap water, filtered water, and most bottled waters. Concentrating on the pH level of our water might be not be the aspect we want to focus on. If alkaline water is healthier, that is intrinsically due more to the minerals it contains rather than its pH level. This means it is rich in alkalizing minerals that our bodies need. Yes, we can get minerals from the food we eat and many health and nutrition experts advocate alkaline diets. Drinking alkaline water seems a simple and efficient way of providing minerals in addition to our food choices. Also, we absorb minerals more efficiently from water than we do food.
In nature, water flows down mountain streams and picks up minerals from rocks in the stream to give it it’s alkalinity. Water filtration systems that create naturally alkaline water work the same way.
Water is not just a beverage choice, it is our most essential nutrient. Drinking half your weight in ounces per day of healthy water is one aspect of Being Healthy by Choice, not by Chance.